Monday, November 25, 2013
In this piece, at Patheos, Jody Bottum returns to one of the themes that ran through his recent and much-discussed Commonweal piece on same-sex marriage. The piece is called "Preaching Social Ethics: Boring and Doomed." "Christianity is fundamentally a metaphysics[,]" the piece states. "Christendom is mostly an ethics. Our trouble these days is that Christendom is broken."
As with the Commonweal essay, it seems to me that this piece says some important things that are true . . . but also some things that are potentially misleading. Certainly, as Jody writes (with more flair than I'm able to muster), Christianity is not just about what we are and are not supposed to do; it's about what and Who is. But, Jody closes with this:
Forget the culture-wars crap. It was a fight worth having, back in the day when there was enough Christendom left to be worth defending. But such as American Christendom was, the collapse of the Mainline has brought it to an end. Start, instead, with re-enchantment: Preach the word of God in the trees and rivers. The graves giving up their dead. The angels swirling around the Throne. Existence itself figuring the Trinity, in how we live and move and have our being. Christ crucified and Christ resurrected. All the rest can follow, if God wants.
I realize it's kind of the thing these days to declare one's weariness with, or to announce the futility and wrongheadedness of, "culture-wars thinking." And, again, such declarations are understandable. Christians should not be happy about warmaking and the nastiness, division, snark, and pain that attend today's politics and controversies are nothing to be happy about. Far better, and far more pleasant, to relish the world's enchantment than to argue about the ministerial exception or to complain about the latest silliness (or worse) being imposed on our children by the Edu-blob.